Sports

In Aurora’s ‘Hog Wars,’ Strength Competition Tests Football’s Less Ballyhooed

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AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - There’s a tug-of-war, sure, but this isn’t your typical schoolyard field day of orange drink and participant ribbons.

“Hog Wars is a nasty event,” A.J. Johnson, a Cherokee Trail High School senior and football player, said.

Well, nasty in the good way — that is, if you enjoy flipping a 500-pound tractor tire over and over again, carrying what appear to be metal bomb-looking apparatuses until your hands say uncle and then shoving a giant fire truck down the street.

“It’s 35,000 pounds, from what I’ve been told,” Rangeview coach Dave Gonzales said.

Five players push it at a time. Last year, Johnson said, it was just a regular pick-up truck. Because that would be too easy.

A team pushes the fire truck. (credit: CBS)

A team pushes the fire truck. (credit: CBS)

At the 10th annual Hog Days on Wednesday, football lineman from Aurora high schools tested their strength and endurance against each other in a competition they describe as “friendly,” “vicious,” and “a brotherhood.”

It’s competitive, too.

“Very competitive to the point where we’re all bleeding over here,” Johnson said.

Rangeview won this year’s Hog Wars, swiping the trophy from last year’s champ, Cherokee Trail. Rangeview snagged first place for the first time since 2010, when it had won five consecutive Hog Wars. Nine of the city’s 11 schools participated this year, the Aurora Sentinel said.

“We showed them today,” Rangeview player Richard King said. “It’s a good way to start off the season and get momentum to go into the year.”

A player participates in the farmer's carry. (credit: CBS)

A player participates in the farmer’s carry. (credit: CBS)

Gonzales said Hog Wars was created to develop camaraderie among the “big men” — those on the offensive and defensive lines. Teams of five players participate in six events, most touting players’ strength.

“It’s pretty friendly rivalry,” he said. “These guys have a lot of respect for each other because they know when they get out there and actually play each other, then it’s a fist fight. Here, it’s very competitive, but you’ll see there’s a lot of mutual respect.”

The tire flip is Alonzo Neal’s favorite event. “It’s the brute strength,” the Rangeview player said. “It’s how fast you can get it done.”

For some players, win or lose, it’s the recognition that matters.

“I like that the hogs finally get appreciated for something,” King said. “We are in the trenches. We don’t get the spotlight, but we’re out there working every day just as hard as the skill guys. It’s just nice to get some appreciation every now and then.”

- Written by Tim Skillern for CBSDenver.com

A player flips a tire in one competition. (credit: CBS)

A player flips a tire in one competition. (credit: CBS)

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